Promotion: If you’re planning to do it – you’re too late

Taken from a book proposal:

Just before publication I will begin to blog at ( site redacted). This ‘social media’ presence will soon to be expanded to Facebook and Twitter.

I see this kind of thing in promo plans all too often, and I have three little words: You’re. Too. Late.

Social networking takes an amazing amount of time to get running and establish a stronghold of faithful readers. If you wait until your book is released, you’ll be talking to yourself for a long time. This isn’t a case of “If you put it up there, they will come.” Attracting an audience takes a lot of research, time, energy…and planning.

When it comes to a promo plan, editors are the boils on authors’ behinds because we’re the ones responsible for selling your book. And the first question our sales teams ask is, “what’s your author doing to promote? What’s their platform?” They ask because that’s what the genre buyers ask. Now how excited are they going to be if I say, “Wellll…they’re planning on blogging, Tweeting, and FaceBooking. No, no, they haven’t done it yet, but they will at some future date.” I’ll get laughed out of my zip code – and rightly so.

Rarely does an author have a successful blog that surrounds only their book because there are just so many things to discuss. After a while, the blog runs out of steam. Of course there are exceptions.

Take Donna Ballman’s blog, for instance. She wrote the award-winning The Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom: Let’s Quill All the Lawyers. Her blog offers writers a fascinating banquet of how one can use the law to enhance and improve their plots. So in this application, it makes perfect sense to maintain a blog about the book. On the other hand, how much mileage can a novelist get out of a blog when all they have to talk about is their book?

The internet is a vast, faceless beast, and it’s very hard to find hard footing without having a clear intent on how you’re going to make your mark. So if your book proposal or promo plan includes the infamous, “I’m planning a blog/website,” just know that you’re underwhelming the editor who’s reading your work.

My advice? Plan ahead. Way ahead.

6 Responses to Promotion: If you’re planning to do it – you’re too late

  1. NinjaFingers says:

    So, any tips for attracting more readers/traffic to my blog? It’s there, I do a lot with it, and I have it crossposting to Facebook and Twitter, but I’m always open for more ideas ;).

    And I agree. You have to change things up with a blog. Not just about your book. Talk about what you’re reading, talk about writing techniques. Because I write spec fic, my blog often digresses into comments about science news, predictions about technological development. The only subjects I avoid are religion and politics ;).

  2. Donna says:

    Thanks for mentioning my blog as one of the good examples! While I blog mostly about using the law in writing, I also blog about news that affects writers, especially legal news. So my blog isn’t just about The Writer’s Guide to the Courtroom.

    Still, I do try to cover the issues that I think will be interesting to my readers. I’m always looking for suggestions of topics that might be helpful to writers. I try to cover issues like censorship, free speech, libel, copyright, and plagiarism that are in the headlines.

  3. Blogs are funny beasts because they’re word of mouth. Anyone with a great blog gets that way because a lot of people said, “hey, you MUST read this blog.”

    That means you need to have consistently good content that will keep readers coming back and spreading the word. As to what that content should be is the hard part. In truth, most authors’ blogs are fairly boring because they lack voice and have little relevant to say.

    It’s important to have a hook to your blog. There are some I read every day because they make me laugh. They have an affinity for making the most mundane part of a day sound like it’s never happened before. They’re like a coffee break.

    Others, like Donna’s, serves a purpose. That’s harder for the novelist – but it can be done. I’d suggest branching out and looking at as many novelists’ blogs and see what attracts you to them – or what repels you.

  4. NinjaFingers says:

    Coming up with something to say every single day is definitely the hard part.

    I suppose I just keep plugging on and posting the link everywhere I can get away with without annoying people ;).

  5. MPG says:

    It’s so right and so important to blog not just about the forthcoming book/film/play/whatever, but to establish a web presence that says ‘I have a life outside writing and it’s really interesting’. I chose to blog about emigrating from Britain to Germany, which I hope will keep producing interesting content.

  6. Leona Wisoker says:

    @NinjaFingers: I took a quick look over your blog; if you’d like my comments, I’d be happy to point a couple things out that I think might help. Won’t bother you otherwise…. 🙂

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